So when I thought about doing this challenge, I got all excited about the long list of amazing books I was going to read. Then I looked at the list and saw that the first thing I’d be reading was C.S. Lewis and I almost decided to quit before I’d even started. To say I have a negative opinion of this author is a huge understatement. However, I hadn’t read this series in particular, and it did make the list so I figured I would give it a shot. I did resent shelling out four bucks for the privilege.
The Space Trilogy is Lewis’ attempt to reach adult audiences with his The first book of this series is Out of the Silent Planet, published in 1938.
This series’ inclusion on this list smacks of “well we can’t include Narnia since it is technically children’s fiction, but we have to throw some C.S.Lewis on there somehow.”
In this story, the protagonist, Professor Ransom, walks through the countryside until he is drugged, beaten, and abducted by a childhood acquaintance and a famous scientist. They steal him away to another planet where he’s meant to be given to the natives for presumably nefarious purposes. Instead, after they land Ransom escapes and runs off, eventually meeting the planet’s inhabitants and learning about their world. By the end he is reunited with his captors, and they discover the reason why the aliens wanted a human in the first place.
The first 2/3 of this book is boring but passable. It sets up the story and gets the protagonist from Earth to Mars. Addition of alien language comes across as grammar lesson instead of compelling part of the world. Portrayals and reactions to women, “simple” people, and “savages” are awful and incredibly off-putting.
The last 1/3 of this book was a condescending, thinly-veiled religious allegory. I have no problems with allegory in general, but here there’s no subtlety or novelty about it whatsoever. A book about ending up on an alien planet and uncovering their social structure and religion could be interesting. A book about going to Mars to hear a retelling of the bible is incredibly boring.
My copy came with a free preview chapter of the 2nd book of the series. I declined to read it.
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
Rating: 1/5 stars
Verdict: Would not recommend, unless you are interested in being bludgeoned about the head with christian allegory.